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Trifolium repens - L.

Common Name White Clover, Dutch Clover, Purple Dutch Clover, Shamrock, White Clover
Family Fabaceae or Leguminosae
USDA hardiness 4-8
Known Hazards This plant has been known to cause problems for grazing animals, though this has never happened in Britain[76]. The problem may be associated with the climate in which the plant is growing[76]. The species is polymorphic for cyanogenic glycosides[218]. The leaves and flowers of certain cyanogenic phenotypes contain a glycoside which releases cyanide on contact with the enzyme linamarase[218].
Habitats Grassland and lawns, preferring a calcareous clay soil[9, 17].
Range Europe, including Britain, from Norwat south and east to N. Africa, north and western Asia.
Edibility Rating    (3 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Full sun
Trifolium repens White Clover, Dutch Clover, Purple Dutch Clover, Shamrock,  White Clover


commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Hugo.arg
Trifolium repens White Clover, Dutch Clover, Purple Dutch Clover, Shamrock,  White Clover
commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Illustration_Trifolium_repens1.jpg

 

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Summary

Bloom Color: White. Main Bloom Time: Mid summer, Mid fall, Mid spring. Form: Prostrate.


Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Trifolium repens is an evergreen Perennial growing to 0.1 m (0ft 4in) by 1 m (3ft 3in) at a medium rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 4 and is not frost tender. It is in leaf all year, in flower from June to September, and the seeds ripen from July to October. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Bees.
It can fix Nitrogen.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in heavy clay and nutritionally poor soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very alkaline soils.
It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map

Synonyms

Trifolium repens L. var. atropurpureum

Habitats

 Ground Cover; Lawn;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Flowers  Leaves  Root
Edible Uses: Condiment  Tea

Leaves - raw or cooked as a potherb[13, 94, 183]. The young leaves are harvested before the plant comes into flower and are used in salads, soups etc[9]. They can also be used as a vegetable, cooked like spinach[9]. The leaves are best cooked[172]. Flowers and seed pods are dried, ground into powder and used as a flour or sprinkled on cooked foods such as boiled rice[183]. Very wholesome and nutritious[115]. The young flowers can also be used in salads[144, 172, 183]. Root - cooked[172, 177]. The dried leaves impart a vanilla flavour to cakes etc[172]. Dried flowering heads are a tea substitute.

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Antirheumatic  Antiscrophulatic  Depurative  Detergent  Ophthalmic  Tonic

The plant is antirheumatic, antiscrophulatic, depurative, detergent and tonic[218]. An infusion has been used in the treatment of coughs, colds, fevers and leucorrhoea[257]. A tincture of the leaves is applied as an ointment to gout[218]. An infusion of the flowers has been used as an eyewash[257].

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Other Uses

Green manure

The plant makes a good green manure, it is useful for over-wintering, especially in a mixture with Lolium perenne[87]. Produces a good bulk. It is a host to 'clover rot' however, so should not be used too frequently[87]. It can be undersown with cereals or with tomatoes in a greenhouse (sow the seed before planting the tomatoes)[87]. Fairly deep rooting but not very fast growing[87]. A good fast ground-cover plant for a sunny position[87]. A dynamic accumulator gathering minerals or nutrients from the soil and storing them in a more bioavailable form - used as fertilizer or to improve mulch.

Special Uses

Carbon Farming  Dynamic accumulator  Food Forest  Ground cover  Nitrogen Fixer

Cultivation details

Agroforestry Services: Nitrogen  Agroforestry Services: Understory legume  Fodder: Pasture  Global Crop  Management: Fodder  Management: Hay  Staple Crop: Protein

Landscape Uses:Ground cover. Succeeds in a moist, well-drained circum-neutral soil in full sun, preferring a sweet calcareous clay soil. Succeeds in poor soils. A very important food plant for the caterpillars of many butterfly and moth species[30] it is also a good bee plant[54]. A good companion plant in the lawn, tolerating trampling[18, 54], but it dislikes growing with henbane or members of the buttercup family[18]. It grows well in an apple orchard, the trees will produce tastier fruit that stores better[201]. It should not be grown with camellias or gooseberries because it harbours a mite that can cause fruit drop in the gooseberries and premature budding in the camellias[201]. Polymorphic, there are many subspecies and varieties. Some varieties have also been selected for use in lawn mixes[183]. This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby[200]. Buttercups growing nearby depress the growth of the nitrogen bacteria by means of a root exudate[201]. Special Features:Not North American native, Invasive. The plant is heat tolerant in zones 8 through 1. (Plant Hardiness Zones show how well plants withstand cold winter temperatures. Plant Heat Zones show when plants would start suffering from the heat. The Plant Heat Zone map is based on the number of "heat days" experienced in a given area where the temperature climbs to over 86 degrees F (30°C). At this temperature, many plants begin to suffer physiological damage. Heat Zones range from 1 (no heat days) to 12 (210 or more heat days). For example Heat Zone. 11-1 indicates that the plant is heat tolerant in zones 11 through 1.) For polyculture design as well as the above-ground architecture (form - tree, shrub etc. and size shown above) information on the habit and root pattern is also useful and given here if available. The plant growth habit is a clumper with limited spread [1-2]. The root pattern is stoloniferous rooting from creeping stems above the ground [1-2].

Carbon Farming

  • Agroforestry Services: Nitrogen  Plants that contribute to nitrogen fixation include the legume family – Fabaceae.
  • Agroforestry Services: Understory legume  Legume vegetation, especially the trees and shrubs growing between the forest canopy and the forest floor.
  • Fodder: Pasture  Enclosed tracts of farmland mainly of grasses, with an interspersion of legumes and other forbs (non-grass herbaceous plants).
  • Global Crop  These crops are already grown or traded around the world. The annual value of each is more than $1 billion US Examples include coconuts, almonds, and bananas.
  • Management: Fodder  Non-destructive management systems maintaining the soil organic carbon.
  • Management: Hay  Cut to the ground and harvested annually. Non-destructive management systems maintaining the soil organic carbon.
  • Staple Crop: Protein  (16+ percent protein, 0-15 percent oil). Annuals include beans, chickpeas, lentils, cowpeas, and pigeon peas. Perennials include perennial beans, nuts, leaf protein concentrates, and edible milks.

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Propagation

Pre-soak the seed for 12 hours in warm water and then sow in spring in situ. If the seed is in short supply it might be better to sow it in pots in a cold frame. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in late spring. Division in spring[238].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

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Expert comment

Author

L.

Botanical References

17200

Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here

Readers comment

Geoff Drake   Fri May 27 19:37:57 2005

Link: The Fukuoka Method of growing a guild of White Clover/Wheat/Rice

Dr. Shrestha (Malla) Anjali Mainya   Mon Jun 28 08:10:19 2004

Eight varieties of Trifolium repens L.were studied on the basis of flower color and leaf markings in Nepal. These were: 1. White flower with marked leaf, 2. White flower with non-marked leaf. 3. White with pink tinged flower and marked leaf, 4.White with pink tinged flower and non-marked leaf, 5. Pink flower with marked leaf, 6. Pink flower with non-marked leaf, 7. Light pink flower with marked leaf, 8. Light pink flower with non-marked leaf.

Uses: 1. Wine can be made from flower heads 2. Leaves contain high vitamin C and can be used as its substitute 3. It plays an important role in the production of rabbit fur or angora.

Refference: The study on the diversity of Trifolium repens in Nepal, Ph.D thesis, 2002.

   Jul 28 2017 12:00AM

White clover here is described with the words "It cannot grow in the shade." Several sources list that it can be grown in both partial and full shade. Here are two: http://www.sare.org/Learning-Center/Books/Managing-Cover-Crops-Profitably-3rd-Edition/Text-Version/Legume-Cover-Crops/White-Clover https://www.nrs.fs.fed.us/pubs/jrnl/2007/nrs_2007_vansambeek_002.pdf

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